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80-year-old man dies following dispute over wearing face mask at New York bar

80-year-old man dies following dispute over wearing face mask at New York bar
Posted at 11:15 PM, Oct 05, 2020

Prosecutors have charged a West Seneca, New York, man with criminally negligent homicide after a dispute over wearing a face covering left an 80-year-old man dead.

Donald Lewinski, 65 of West Seneca, was taken into custody Monday following an incident September 26 at Pamp's Red Zone Bar and Grill.

According to Erie County District Attorney John Flynn, Lewinski got into a verbal confrontation with Rocco Sapienza - another regular at the bar - after Sapienza noticed Lewinski was not wearing a mask while bringing buckets of beer to a band playing outside.

At one point, Flynn said Sapienza got up and confronted Lewinski. That's when Lewinski stood up and pushed Sapienza "hard" with both hands, the D.A. said. Sapienza fell back and hit his head on the ground.

Sapienza was taken to Erie County Medical Center in nearby Buffalo, where he was unresponsive for four days. He died on September 30.

The cause of death is blunt force trauma to the head, authorities said.

The owner of Pamp's Red Zone released this statement:
"We are all deeply saddened by the loss of Rocco. He was a part of our Red Zone family and loved by all. Our deepest sympathies go out to Rocco’s family."

Lewinski is set to appear in court on Tuesday.

A celebration of life for Sapienza will take place Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the Southtown Christian Center.

This article was written by WKBW.